CL summary: quarterfinalsArticle
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Hamburg, Löwen, Kiel and Ciudad Real reach the semi-finals. Read the story of the weekend!

CL summary: quarterfinals

Three teams from Germany, one from Spain. This will be in the balls for the semi-final draw on Tuesday morning.

Hamburg and Ciudad Real this weekend, but they both qualified with a better aggregate. Kiel and Rhein Löwen Neckar Löwen also secured a place in the semi-finals.

HSV Hamburg – SG Flensburg-Handewitt 29:31 (13:15) – first match 28:25

Gille was decisive at the endFlensburg won, but the winners shed tears and the losing side jumped and danced on the court of the Color Line Arena. Even if Hamburg lost their first home match in the Champions League ever, HSV qualified for the semi-final. The 31-29 victory wasn’t enough for Flensburg after losing the first match by 25:28.

One goal decided this “Hitchcock match” in Hamburg. Two Swedish players were the best players of the game: Oscar Carlen scored 10 times for Flensburg and goalkeeper Dan Beutler saved 16 Hamburg shots. Nevertheless, at the end Flensburg didn’t have the power to score the decisive goal in the last seconds. Flensburg missed six important players and didn’t have the alternatives on the bench. But Flensburg really shocked Hamburg and the hosts did not have the lead at all during the 60 minutes.

For Hamburg it was pivot Bertrand Gille to save the team and help them to the second consecutive semi-final. He scored six goals and also did a great job in defence.

“Everything was just the way I expected it,“ Hamburg coach Martin Schwalb said after the match. “In Flensburg we won the first halftime and now we lost the second against a brave Flensburg team. We believed in ourselves, even as we were close to being eliminated.”

Flensburg coach Per Carlen was highly disappointed and close to tears after the match:

“We fought with our hearts, hands and with our minds. It was sensational because we were missing so many players. It was fight with blood and emotions – everything you need for a brilliant evening of handball.”

The coach added with irony in his voice:

“Maybe it’s not so bad to miss the semi-finals, because we wouldn’t have players for it. But in the end I’m so proud of my team.”

Flensburg were in the lead all the time and extended the lead to six goals by the middle of the second half.

“It was obvious that we couldn’t conserve the lead, but we were hoping that we could keep three goals for the end,” Flensburg player Jakob Heinl said.

Seven minutes before the end, the outstanding Oscar Carlen kept the dream alive as he made it 29:24, but Hamburg scored three goals in a row and everything was open again. At 31:27 Flensburg were on the way to the semi-finals, but Lackovic and Bertrand Gille scored and in the very last seconds Hans Lindbergh stole the ball. Despite the 29:31 defeat, HSV celebrated.

MKB Veszprém – Ciudad Real 32:29 (17:15) – first match 24:29

Veszprém's victory was not enoughExactly the same way as in Hamburg: the winners could cry and the losers celebrate.

Even as Veszprém showed a brilliant performance against the titleholders, Ciudad Real were the lucky loser this time. The Hungarians dominated the whole match, but the five-goal difference from the first match was too much for the team of Lajos Mocsai. Even if at one point Veszprém had a seven-goal lead…

“We’re so happy to qualify for the semi-finals,” Ciudad Real coach Talant Dujshebaev said after the match. “Veszprém were extremely strong and they were close to eliminating us.”

At the very beginning, Veszprém went away to 14:10 by scoring five consecutive goals. But until the break Ciudad – led by Hombrados in the goal – came closer to a two goal difference.

After the break Veszprém started to play on high speed and the great will to beat Ciudad with more than five goals.

At 22:16, the Hungarian spectators went crazy and supported their team louder than ever. Most of the time Veszprém were in the lead by four goals, but as Ciudad Real came closer to 28:29, the game was decided and the Spanish reached the semi-final.

“We weren’t eliminated today but a week ago in Ciudad Real,” Veszprém coach Mocsai said. “We showed our class, but against a team such as the title holders, it’s nearly impossible to go through in two matches.”

The best scorers were Marko Vujin with 12 goals for Veszprém; Rutenka and Fernandez with six goals for Ciudad Real.

THW Kiel – RK Zagreb 31:27 (17:11) – first match 28:28

Kiel qualified for the third CL semi-final within three years with a well-deserved victory against Zagreb. Goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer and left winger Dominik Klein were decisive already in the first half. Zagreb came closer after the break, but couldn’t stop the “THW express”.

After the 28:28 in Zagreb, Kiel remained unbeaten on home court in the CL season. As Klein and Filip Jicha were the best THW scorers with each six goals, Kiril Lazarov hit seven times for Zagreb.

5:3, 13:9 and 17:11 were the intermediate results before the break. The Kiel defence (including Omeyer) performed well and Zagreb couldn’t break through. On the other side, Klein and Jicha organised a kind of “firework”.

The Croatians didn’t give up, fought hard for every ball after the break. And surprisingly enough, the six-goal lead melted to three at 21:18.

A series of 4:1 goals for Kiel made it more comfortable again. Six minutes from the end Kavticnik scored and made it 27:22 when the spectators started signing their “black and white” club anthem. At that point it was clear that Kiel would reach the semifinals.

“In the first half we were very close to perfect handball,” THW coach Alfred Gislasson said. “We played against an extremely strong opponent and it was really hard for us to qualify for the semi-finals. But as we were more focused in the last 15 minutes, the victory was deserved.”

Zagreb coach Mirko Basic agreed:

“We lost against a better opponent. For winning such a match you need an outstanding goalkeeper – and we didn’t have one today.”

For THW’s Omeyer it is “great to qualify for the semifinals again. It’s the third time in a row and this shows that we really belong to the best teams in the world.”

Zagreb’s former World Player, Ivano Balic, believes that the first half was decisive:

“THW were brilliant in defence and they found a lot of holes in our defence. We tried hard to turn the page, but we couldn’t catch up with the speed of Kiel.”

Rhein-Neckar Löwen - Medvedi Chechov 36:28 (16:13) – first match 31:33

Rhein Neckar Löwen did the same as Hamburg last season: in their first ever Champions League appearance, the German club reached the semi-finals.

With a strong performance after the break, Löwen have beaten Chechov clearly. A long night of celebration started in Karlsruhe…

The most prolific home player was Mariusz Jurasik with nine goals, just as a week ago in Chekhov. Igropoulo was the best scorer for the Russians with eight goals.

“I’m totally satisfied,” Löwen coach Wolfgang Schwenke said, “even if we missed too many chances before the break.”

Manager Thorsten Storm added: “The fighting spirit was outstanding. We were able to compensate for a number of injured players.”

Chekhov coach Vladimir Maximov was disappointed: “This was our worst match in the whole season.”

His team started well, stayed in the lead until 12:11, but Löwen equalised and went away to a three-goal difference by the break.

The German defence was much better with a good goalkeeper, Henning Fritz. In between five minutes, Löwen extended their lead to 19:13, as Chekhov didn’t score for the first seven minutes of the second half.

“They ran over us,” Chekhov’s pivot, Mikhail Chipurin, said. The match was finally decided in the 49th minute at 28:21. Löwen celebrated their biggest success in the history of the club as reaching the semi-final of the CL means much more than the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup last season.

And now Löwen have high hopes:

“When you reach the semi-finals, you want to reach the top. If we play like we did today, we can beat any opponent in the semi-final. We will try hard to reach the finals,” pivot Christian Schwarzer said.

TEXT: Björn Pazen